It’ll be colder soon so we thought we’d talk about our T&E of the WT Tactical Lightweight Soft Shell and Soft Shell Jacket. Our eval team wore both under a variety of conditions in places as varied as Coronado National Forest, Ft. Custer MI and the police mounted unit training area in Kansas City, Mo.
First off, though the jackets are described as just water repellent rather than water proof, it should be noted this actually means really really water repellent. Water beads up quick or slides off. The only time we ever had any issues with water soaking through was when we actually quit moving and laid up for several hours (without overhead cover) in substantial precip.
The jacket stretched and moved really well, even when we wore it on the range or during defensive tactics training (obvious translation to real life there). They have great seals around the wrists and waist, tight enough to prevent drafts and moisture creep but not so tight your wrists look like you spent the day at a BDSM club when you take it off.
One note about the waist and sleeves—our civilian LE evaluators liked the fact that it doesn’t bunch up around the gunbelt and the sleeves don’t catch on equipment.
Other things we like—a high, comfortable collar we were surprised to find did not chafe, the hood (this was really cool; it stows away easily and fits underneath a Kevlar helmet or motorcycle helmet if you do have to deploy it), the lower “dropped” back (so it doesn’t ride up over your belt when you bend or crouch) and “pit zips” to vent (on the soft shell). Evaluators requested just two small changes—make the hook and loop wrist straps wider and increase the size of the hook and loop field on the shoulders. We’re ambivalent about the forearm pockets.
Minor tweaks aside, our only real complaint would be the price, which might make a lower ranking enlisted man or patrolman hesitate. For those inclined to err on the side of economy (so to speak), WT Tactical recently announced they’ll be making other versions of these in Jordan (where they’re working with KADDB) from the same materials. That should put a jacket of comparable construction and performance within reach of those unwilling to eat some Ramen noodles in exchange for high end kit.
Final evaluation: both jackets are worth the money and perform in the field.
We’ll end with a video of our buddy from I.C. E. training wearing the lightweight soft shell on the range. Yes, we’re friends with Rob. Yes, he does cross-fit and yoga. No, we don’t know why he rides a motorcycle at least two and a half times his size…but yes he does have great taste in shoes, and even better taste in jackets.
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